Commentary - Society
There is no such entity as society. Society is a collective term for some number of individuals that have some common relationship or potential relationship, such as all the citizens of a certain geopolitical area, for example, a city, county, state, or country. As a concept, a society is an abstraction, often a kind of summation or averaging of the activities or interests of all the individuals in a society. Whatever is said about a society is always a generalization from the actions and purposes of the individuals that comprise it.
In itself, a society does nothing, has no purpose, nor any value. For most people, however, society is just another of those collectivist non-concepts that allow them to ignore essential truth by concentrating on the non-essential and derived. The emphasis on society, not as an abstract concept, but as a primary, ignores two essential characteristics of a society, the uniqueness of each member of a society and its derivative nature.
Therefore, anything said about a society, any quality or characteristic assigned to it, any purpose or goals set for it, or any demands made of it, never pertain to any of the individuals in it as individuals.
- When questions such as, "what should society do about crime," or . "...about poverty," or, "...about education?" the first question that must be answered is, "what is society?"
If "society" is anything other than the actual victims of crime, the poor, or the uneducated, the answer to all these questions is nothing.
None of these things happen to societies. Societies are not the victims of crime, are neither rich or poor, ignorant or educated. If what happens to individuals in a society is meant, none of these are ever true of everyone in a society (except that those living under repressive governments are all victims of crime).
A society's only value is the value it has to any individual. A society that allows an individual to live his life without coercive interference and is comprised of other individuals who are decent and productive is a valuable, though very rare, one. In general, societies tend to be repressive and are comprised largely of less-than-productive indecent individuals. In most societies, the individual who chooses to be independent, honest, and productive must find ways to free himself from the limits and constraints of society. Such societies benefit from the presence of such independent individuals, and those who receive this benefit usually despise their benefactor.
- The golden rule is, "mind your own business." Every social evil begins with someone breaking this rule.
(In classic terms it is, "do nothing unto others, because that is what you would have them do unto you, unless your are an idiot.")
If there is a universal hereditary fault in human nature, (which we do not believe there is), it is the irresistible passion to interfere and meddle in other men's affairs. The almost insatiable desire to tells others how to live their lives and do everything from how to brush their teeth to how often to change their underwear, if not universal, infects most people.
This trait would be merely annoying if it never went any further than the intrusive verbal Sunday School lesson almost everyone is ready to serve up at any moment. Unfortunately, the compulsion to interfere in other's lives usually takes active form, and includes everything from the unasked-for gifts or favors to the paternalistic laws, at every level of government, meant to protect us and ensure everyone lives safely and happily.
One cannot listen to the radio without being showered with "public-service" announcements telling us what to wear, when to breath, and how early to start for work. Children can no longer even play without the governments interference, requiring them to wear helmets when riding a bike or preventing them from playing with things that might be dangerous.
There is not one aspect of our lives that some intrusive individual or group of individuals has not managed to get some law passed that interferes on our private lives and requires or prohibits some action or practice. The fact that all these laws and regulations do not make life one bit safer, prevent one accident, or prevent one person from possibly harming themselves, does not deter those who cannot resist meddling. Do not suppose these laws are ineffective, because they have a very great effect. They place so many restrictions and limits on every human activity that any real joy or pleasure that was formerly found in them has been completely squeezed out.
- Everyone is different and everyone is allocated exactly the amount of resources, in terms of time, energy, and ability, required to live successfully. The moment you interfere in someone else's life, or allow them to interfere in yours, both of you have wasted resources necessary for your success, and both of you will fail to the degree your attention is taken away from the requirements of your own lives.
People frequently choose to voluntarily cooperate in an effort or project that they all benefit from and accomplish more efficiently by working together. They sometimes describe such cooperative efforts as "helping each other." Everyone knows the benefit of such cooperation, not the least of which, is the pleasure of working with others that have similar interests and goals.
The difference between the kind of help that is really cooperation and the kind that is really interference in someone else's life, is the word "voluntary." Very often, the intrusive meddler is described as a volunteer (which they are), but a situation is only voluntary when all the parties freely volunteer. The one being helped must also freely volunteer to be helped. When it is a government agency "offering" the help, there is almost always an implicit, and often and explicit threat, where the help is refused. "You do not have to accept the social workers help, Mrs. Phelps, but there might be an investigation if you refuse, you know, because, while we know it is not true in your case, some people refuse the help because they are afraid of what a social worker might find in the home, like someone abusing a child."
When one suffers we all suffer is nonsense. When one suffers, we may feel a pang of sympathy, but that sense of joy and relief, "thank goodness it wasn't me," far outweighs any sympathetic discomfort we might temporarily experience.
Neither pain or pleasure can be shared or experienced by more than one person. That twinge of discomfort we feel when observing someone in pain is not the other's pain we feel, but our own. Not that this explanation is really needed. The stupid expression, "when one suffers we all suffer," is nothing more than a collectivist slogan to blur the distinction between individuals.
Since in reality this cannot be true, the true nature and purpose of all those government programs designed to, "help those in need," becomes clear. Since those who are not in need, because they provide for themselves, will not feel the "pain of those in need," it is they who will be required to pay for the programs. In this way the government can assure that when one suffers the pain of need, because they will not or cannot provide for themselves, those who otherwise would feel no pain of need, will feel the pain of having to support those who do feel pain.